How to be a successful host family?
How to be a successful host family?
An au pairs main responsibility is to take care of the host family's children. The au pair is expected to play with and occupy the children, help with their homework and take them to school, kindergarten or to their other activities. In addition, the au pair assists the family with light housework during the au pair stay, the children get to know the au pair's culture and language. However, au pairs should not be considered as language teachers. Depending on the age of the children, the au pair can also be asked to help them with tidying up their bedrooms. Washing the children's clothes and preparing simple meals are also part of the job. In addition, the au pair may be asked to baby sit once or twice a week. Babysitting, however, forms part of the working hours of the au pair.
The au pair and host family should discuss the au pair's duties together before the au pair placement starts. The tasks and duties of the au pair can then be written down in a schedule.
Au Pair Car Use
You’ll want to think carefully about what your family’s guidelines will be regarding car use.
- Will you allow her to use the car to drive to classes and au pair meetings?
- Will she have access to the car for personal use?
- Will you require your au pair to drive while on duty?
- Who is responsible for paying for gas?
- Will the au pair have her own car or will she share one with you?
If the au pair is required to drive, you need to consider the following:
clarify if the au pair has driving experience. Many au pairs do have a driving license, but they have never driven a car after the driving test.
The driving license or an International Driving Permit might be valid in the host country only for a certain time period. Please enquire about the provisions concerning this subject at your local police station and ask if maybe the au pair has to take an additional test. Clarify with your insurance who will bear the damages which might be caused by the au pair. You might want to pay for some driving lessons so that your au pair gets acquainted with the Highway Code in your country. If the au pair comes from a country where a car is driven on the other side of the road than in your country, it is advisable that the au pair takes driving lessons before he/she drives your car. Upon arrival, host families and au pairs are urged to sit down together and agree on rules regarding use of the family car. Because your au pair is a “family member,” you should consider what rules you would consider reasonable for your own adult children. While an au pair should recognize that use of a car during her year is a privilege, not a right, giving your au pair access to a car will help her feel less isolated and more independent during the year, especially if you live in an area with limited public transport.
Au Pair Curfew
Curfew is another important issue to bring up as soon as your au pair arrives, and like car, phone and computer use, there is a section of the Household Handbook dedicated to curfew. Most families give their au pairs a curfew based on when and if she will be on duty the next day. An earlier curfew on weeknights is reasonable and ensures your au pair has time to get enough rest so she can fulfil her duties. On weekends, au pairs generally expect to be out later. Some families have a “car curfew” meaning that the car must be back by a certain time but the au pair may stay out later.
Au Pair Phone Use
Most Au Pairs have their own mobile phone, unlocked to use any of sim cards. In this case you only need to help the new Au Pair having a SIM card wit Top Up option, to avoid overusing a certain limit. There are also cell phones that allow you to pay-as-you-go. It is your responsibility to let your au pair know what her limits are with regard to making phone calls and texting. If there are consequences to going over those limits (i.e. your au pair covers the cost), be sure to make sure she understands these as well. Rules regarding when she should be on the phone should be included in your Household Handbook. We also recommend reminding your au pair about the dangers of texting while driving and the usage of the landline family phone.
Au Pair Computer Use
Your au pair will likely want to use a computer to keep in touch with friends and family back home through email and Skype. Most au pairs will also use a computer to check favourite websites from back home and visit popular social media sites. Some au pairs bring their own laptops and others rely on their host family’s computers for online access. In any case, we encourage you to think about what computer, if any, will be available for your au pair to use and when she will have access to it. You’ll also want to talk to your au pair about protecting your family’s privacy when online. If it is important to you to keep photos and information about your family off of popular social media sites, make sure your au pair is aware of this.